Unsuspecting travelers should beware of in-room safe offered in this hotel, as well as several others in Laos.
The in-room safe is advertised in this hotel's website, as one of the hotel safety features.
When you check in, no other safe is offered.
Their in-room safe is fairly small-sized, antiquated model that, as I learned only later, can be easily opened by any hotel employee (and possibly anybody else) using a simple, basic universal master-key, the kind that can be purchased in many home stores, bypassing the so-called "secret code" that the guest chose, without leaving any traces.
Worse yet,: opening the safe by using the hotel master-key in this fashion does not cancel or reset the guest code. The user of the master-key can easily re-close the safe after opening it by the same master-key, and the guest would not even know that the safe has been opened or its contents interfered with, since everything seems normal and the code still "works".
If the thief is clever and not excessively greedy, he would not steal the entire contents of the safe, but rather only a part of it (i.e., a few banknotes), which makes it much less apparent, so that the guest would not notice the theft until it is too late and he has left the hotel.
There are additional issues that one should be aware of.
Setting a new code for a new guest is a process that also invites trouble and may possibly also invite future interference with the safe. The hotel staff apparently does not reset or cancel the code of the previous guest (at least in my case), and that code does not reset by itself. No verbal instructions are given about it when you check in. Thus if you are not very familiar with those particular old models, you are more than likely to punch in a new code, thinking that this is going to be your code, put your money inside and lock it up and then find out that the new code has been ignored since the safe still works on an older code, and you cannot access your money inside. You then have to call housekeeping, which arrives promptly with this basic master-key and opens the safe for you, while of course witnessing its contents.
There is an additional particular safety concern with this hotel: there is direct elevator access from the street level to the room floors and vice versal, completely bypassing the front desk (which is on the 1st floor, not the ground floor).
After staying one night in this hotel, and moving on to my next destination, I discovered belatedly that I had cash missing from my money belt. This was after I had gone through the "accidentally locked safe" / "rescue by master-key from housekeeping" routine as described above. Like most guests, I did not recount the money in my belt when I checked out, as I naturally assumed it had been safely locked away in the room safe and there was no need to do so. Also only a part of the cash was missing, thus a quick look at the cash without full and accurate counting would not have alerted the unsuspecting guest that money was stolen, since only several banknotes had been carefully shaven away from the pack, in a way that makes it visually inconspicuous.
When I emailed the hotel about it, I received a very aggressive and unpleasant reply, and from then onwards all additional correspondence from me was completely ignored by the hotel.
From comments in Tripadvisor by at least two other guests in this hotel who had complained about money being stolen from the room, I learned that the hotel may have closed-circuit cameras on the floors, although one reviewer in this website suspected that they are intentionally misdirected so that one cannot see who enters the room. I requested that review of the camera tapes be conducted. That too was ignored by the hotel. This was also in accordance with the comments by those two reviewers about the hotel's conduct in such cases, and I now regret not paying attention to those warnings before checking into this hotel (one rewview in Tripadvisor website was in Russian and required translation, thus I had not paid attention to it beforehand).
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Lao Orchid
- Lao Orchid Vientiane